It’s safe to say that nobody could have predicted how our lives would change in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic effectively uprooted every aspect of our day-to-day, forcing us to develop new strategies to survive and thrive through uncertainty. The B2B digital marketing landscape is no different; whether you’re a product manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer, you have undoubtedly experienced these changes, hopefully building your organization’s resiliency in the process.
As we adjust to the “new normal”, now is an excellent time to look back on some dominant trends and lessons learned in B2B marketing. Although 2020 has been filled with unexpected challenges, there is plenty of insight to be found to guide our digital practices.
The Year of Accelerating Trends
In many ways, 2020 saw the rapid progression of many B2B marketing trends that were already happening. Our society’s shift to digital platforms has been underway for decades; having to stay home forced us to rely even more heavily on digital communications to keep in touch, maintain relationships, and conduct business. At a minimum, 2020 gave us a sneak-peek into the direction B2B marketing is heading. More likely, however, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies to establish digital marketing infrastructure that will remain in use through the years and decades to come.
Before COVID-19, 65% of B2B buyers believed that technology (websites, social media, etc.) impacted their professional buying behaviours. In the absence of trade shows, print collateral, in-person meetings, and other traditional marketing tactics, that percentage has undoubtedly grown. While many aspects of business may return to normal in the coming months, the increased importance of digital marketing for B2B businesses will only continue to grow.
So Where Do You Begin?
If you’re a B2B business that is new to digital marketing, it can be challenging to know where to start, especially in generally uncertain times. However, investing in digital marketing platforms is never a bad idea; a solid marketing strategy will differentiate your organization from your competition, generate leads and sales, and consistently drive your business’ growth.
Search Marketing & Online Advertising: Driving Traffic
A website isn’t a useful marketing tool if nobody visits it, so how can a business drive traffic from potential customers?
Recent studies have shown that up to 70% of B2B buyers begin their product research on Google or other search engines. In the absence of traditional B2B marketing tactics, it’s no stretch to assume that more buyers than ever have used (and will continue to rely on) search engines to compare your business with your competitors. As such, companies need to ensure their website appears in search results, ideally ahead of their competition.
There are two basic strategies B2B businesses can use to ensure they appear in Google: online advertising (including PPC ads) and search marketing. Online advertising is essentially purchasing advertising space in a search engine’s results. It’s highly effective in generating traffic in the short-term (so long as you continue to pay for ad space).
In contrast, search marketing is a long-term approach that organically drives your website up search rankings through compelling content. Creating blogs, infographics, and other content that adds value for your customers will get search engines’ attention, causing them to display your website higher and more frequently in their results. While creating content is a considerable investment, the long-term ROI of creating meaningful content makes this an excellent strategy to get the most out of your website.
eCommerce: Moving the Buyer’s Journey Online
Before 2020, many B2B businesses viewed their website strictly as marketing collateral. While forward-thinking companies understood their web presence to be part of the buyer’s journey, many were reluctant to develop the infrastructure necessary for customers to complete the journey online. In the wake of COVID-19, however, many companies quickly realized their business models were highly vulnerable if they were unable to sell their products and fulfill customer needs conventionally.
60.7% of manufacturers and 38.1% of wholesalers and distributors are not yet using eCommerce platforms, meaning that there is still an opportunity for your business to get ahead of the competition. In 2018, B2B eCommerce transactions exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, and are projected to grow over the next decade. Developing an eCommerce platform for your business will create an additional revenue stream while meeting your customers’ changing needs for years to come.
Now more than ever, digital marketing strategies require thoughtful planning, attention-to-detail, and rock-solid execution to maximize ROI and generate growth for your business. Whether you choose to tackle it yourself or enlist the help of a digital marketing agency, a solid digital marketing strategy will allow your business to remain resilient and continually deliver results, no matter what the future holds.
With twenty years’ experience in digital marketing, Atrium Digital has helped its clients achieve sustained digital marketing success in a wide variety of fields and industries. Our unique approach allows us to engineer systems, build platforms, and optimize routines to deliver consistent results, allowing organizations to experience sustained growth through digital marketing.
Contact us today to learn how Marketing Systems Engineering can put your organization on the path to marketing success.
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